Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Religion and State in Israel - June 1, 2009 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

June 1, 2009 (Section 1) (continues in Section 2)

If you are reading in email or RSS feed, please click here to read ONLINE

Editor – Joel Katz

Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.

Gov't urged to obey order to fund non-Orthodox conversions

By Rebecca Anna Stoil www.jpost.com June 1, 2009

The Knesset Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee held a stormy debate on Monday afternoon over whether or not the state is implementing the recent High Court of Justice ruling requiring it to fund non-Orthodox conversion programs.

The urgent hearing was held at the request of MK Shlomo Molla (Kadima).

"The court was called in to address this matter because the state gave the Orthodox institutions a monopoly on conversion. There is room in Israel for religious pluralism," said Molla. "That is why the courts passed the reins on to us."

Molla, in his opening remarks, emphasized that he did not intend to hold a halachic debate on the nature of Reform conversion, but rather to discuss the division of funds for such private conversion centers.

"It cannot be that the Israeli taxpayer is funding only one type of conversion," he said. "Religious pluralism is a foundation stone of any democratic state. 

The state must therefore view all of the streams of Judaism as equals and the Immigrant Absorption Ministry must carry out the High Court ruling to the letter of the law."

Neeman: I'll appoint dozens of former IDF chaplains to conversion courts

By Dan Izenberg www.jpost.com May 27, 2009

Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman said Tuesday he will enlist dozens of former military chaplains to serve, on a voluntary basis, as dayanim in the state's special conversion courts, to speed up the process for tens of thousands of immigrants who are not Jewish according to religious law.

Having so many immigrants who were immersed in society but who were not Jewish was the biggest challenge that Israel faced, he said. If it was not solved, he added, Israel would cease to be a Jewish and democratic state.

Bar-Ilan University law professor Yedidya Stern warned that the country had reached a crisis over this issue.

Stern said it was the haredi parties - Shas and United Torah Judaism - that stood in the way of large-scale conversion and that the religious Zionist, traditional and secular Jewish communities, which constituted the majority, had to join forces to overcome this obstacle.

Beginning of the end of Orthodox hegemony

By Jay Shofet www.haaretz.com Opinion May 28, 2009

Jay Shofet is a member of the Executive of the Israeli Movement for Progressive Judaism and the Chairperson of the Reform community Kehilat Yozma in Modi'in. He is on the staff of SHATIL, the New Israel Fund's Empowerment and Training Center for NGOs working for social change.

For as the ultra-Orthodox men who took over the Rabbinate are steadily narrowing its approach, the Israeli public - according, for example, to a recent Market-Watch survey - is becoming more open, more diverse in its Judaism and more nuanced.

The non-Orthodox movements are all growing, and spiritual teachings and pluralistic Jewish learning are on the rise

…Ultimately, this slowly unfolding pluralism will not only change Israeli society at its very core. It just may be the catalyst for a renewed interest in Israel among the increasingly disaffected legions of Reform and Conservative Jews abroad.

Many of them have never been comfortable with the fact that their movements in Israel are still widely perceived as semi-underground insurgencies. Maybe now, as the non-Orthodox streams blossom, they'll give us a closer look. 

In praise of conversion

By Rabbi Reuven Hammer www.jpost.com Opinion June 1, 2009

The writer is the head of the Masorti Rabbinical Court. His most recent book is Entering Torah.

We are allowing a combination of bureaucratic incompetence, unjustified paranoia, overly and unnecessarily strict application of halachic norms and Diaspora-originated fear of the non-Jew to result in counterproductive conduct.

We are, in short, cutting off our noses to spite our faces.

…There are others who suddenly discovered Judaism and sincerely desire to be part of it. There are those from the former Soviet Union who live here and want to be part of the Jewish people.

Should we discourage them or should we be willing to answer their call? It is regrettable that conversion, which has played an important role in Judaism, should today be such a matter of controversy.

Where was Eli Yishai when the Book of Ruth was read in shul?

By Jeff Barak www.jpost.com Opinion June 1, 2009

The writer is a former editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post.

Today, if a non-Jewish woman (Ruth was a Moabite) would first of all marry a Jewish man (as did Ruth) and only after he died pledge allegiance to the Jewish people (or, in the words of Ruth to her mother-in-law Naomi: 

"For where you shall go, so shall I go. Where you shall dwell, so shall I dwell. Your people are my people and your God is my God."), the chances of her conversion being accepted by a rabbinical court headed by the likes of Yishai and Yosef would be zero.

Court to state - Ignore the law

By Evelyn Gordon www.jpost.com Opinion May 30, 2009

It is a sad day when no less a body than the Supreme Court declares that the law is irrelevant. Yet that is what Israel's Supreme Court did last week in its ruling on state funding for conversion programs

To quote Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch, writing for a unanimous court, "the legal validity of the conversion process... cannot in and of itself justify a distinction" between Orthodox and non-Orthodox programs.

Conversion is not a political football

By Anshel Pfeffer www.haaretz.com Opinion May 31, 2009

Converting to Judaism is an intimate and personal transformation, not a political football. If Neeman and others see converts merely as more numbers in the demographics game, they will ultimately fail.

A real change in attitude toward those seeking to be accepted into the Jewish people can only happen when we begin treating them as individuals with aspirations of their own. The story of Ruth, Naomi and Boaz teaches us no less

Conversions down 20 percent in 2009

By Ruth Eglash www.jpost.com May 26, 2009

Mismanagement and bureaucracy in the country's conversion process has caused a severe drop in the number of people signing up to convert to Judaism, according to a new report published Monday by Itim, a non-profit organization that assists many Jewish converts to navigate the complicated system.

Itim's founder and director Rabbi Seth Farber:

"I do not advocate lowering the current standards of conversion," said Farber. "I just believe that a strong central body that is not subject to political whims or to the influences of the ultra-Orthodox should be established to oversee this process."

The organization also condemns the Interior Ministry's treatment of Jewish converts from abroad.

"Even though according to additions to the Law of Return Jewish converts should be permitted to make aliya, in many cases these converts are asked to meet unexplained criteria to obtain Israeli citizen," observes the report.

Silly minister (of justice), tricks are for kids

By Rabbi Andrew Sacks www.jpost.com Opinion May 27, 2009

The writer is Director of the Masorti [Conservative] Movement's Rabbinical Assembly in Israel

But when push comes to shove - the Rabbinic Courts not only fail to convert in significant numbers - most applicants are never given the opportunity to appear before a Rabbinic Court.

The judges have been heartless and callous. The system, after a series of bureaucratic and procedural changes remains in shambles. Tens of millions of dollars have been poured into a mechanism that has produced few positive results.

But on Tuesday, the very man who designed this failed system pulled a rabbit out of his hat. He unveiled his brilliant solution. MORE OF THE SAME.  

Cash pledged for Reform conversions

Update on Yossi Fackenheim case

By Anshel Pfeffer The Jewish Chronicle www.thejc.com May 27, 2009

The Supreme Court’s decision to order the government to explain why a rabbinical court last year revoked all the conversions performed under Rabbi Chaim Druckman was described as “good news” for Yossi Fackenheim, who had his conversion renounced last year due to a lack of religious observance.

London-based Mr. Fackenheim, 29, is the son of the renowned Reform theologian Emil Fackenheim. Mr. Fackenheim’s mother was an Orthodox convert and he too was converted in Canada, aged 2.

He married in 2001 in Jerusalem in an Orthodox ceremony but when he and his wife attended a Jerusalem beth din to obtain a get, or religious divorce, last August, he was told he could not give a get because his religious status had been questioned. His wife, who complained this left her in limbo, was later issued a get.

Mr Fackenheim, who [was to] remarry under a Reform Rabbi in Tel Aviv this [past] weekend, describes the renouncement of his conversion as a “ blight on my life. 

Until the decision is reversed I’m unable to get a civil marriage in Israel as the state only recognises marriages performed under Orthodox auspices.”

Anastasia, tell me who you are

By Doron Halutz www.haaretz.com May 27, 2009

Interview with MK Anastasia Michaeli (Yisrael Beitenu)

As the first convert to Judaism to be elected to the Knesset, she aspires to

"transfer the authority for conversion from the rabbinical court in Jerusalem to the rabbis of the various cities. Not everyone has the money to travel to Jerusalem. I waited half a year only for a date for conversion, and then they failed me because they saw a cover article in La'isha that I had done in 1999. They claimed it was immodest."

What do you think of last week's High Court ruling that calls for recognition of Reform conversion?

"It's very complicated. In principle I'll support it, but I'm now a public figure in the legislature, so don't hold me to my word, I have to examine the law." 

…Because of [her husband] Yossi she converted and moved to Israel.

"I understood that it was important to his family, it's not acceptable to them to marry a non-Jewish woman. I told him, you don't have to worry. The moment I do something, I go all the way with it." During the conversion Yossi also became more committed to Judaism. "Before that he ate milk and meat together, now he's totally kosher."

They married twice. First in 1997, "for the papers" which were meant to arrange her aliyah to Israel. After she completed the conversion process in 2000 they married again, under the marriage canopy, "with three children in our arms. 

I never dreamt of a wedding with 1,000 people and a dress. For me marriage is signing a form. I'm usually not in favor of marrying before there are children; a wedding is designed to arrange the relations between a husband and wife when there are children.

Why do you send the children to a religious school? 

"They won't get Torah from me, and they have to get to know their roots. I want them to accept religion and understand what it is, during their childhood. If later they don't want it - they don't have to, I won't force them."

Reports of 'death' exaggerated

By Rabbi Michael Marmur www.jpost.com Opinion May 27, 2009

The writer is Dean of the Jerusalem school of the Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion.

The truth is that there is ample and powerful evidence that a Judaism of meaning aimed at those for whom Orthodoxy is untenable, unpalatable or impossible is more urgently in demand today than ever before. What are suffering are many of the national institutions, the infrastructures of the movements and the seminaries.

The prognosis offered in the name of Lamm is similar to concluding that since people no longer buy vinyl records, music is going out of fashion.

The challenge for my institution, the Hebrew Union College, and for others like it, is to embrace a sustainable model of excellence in teaching and learning. Reform Judaism isn't dying - it's changing. That's what we Jews do best.

Coming full circle

By Ze'ev Segal and Ariel Bendor www.haaretz.com May 27, 2009

Interview with former Israel Supreme Court President Aharon Barak

Barak is perturbed by the denial of the right of certain individuals to marry and to start a family, as expressed in Israeli law.

"The situation that exists today in Israel is that the state is violating flagrantly and very powerfully one of the basic rights that accrues to a person in a freedom-loving democracy, namely the right to marry.

In the State of Israel a Jew cannot marry a non-Jew, a Christian cannot marry a non-Christian and a Muslim cannot marry a non-Muslim.

In addition, a Jew cannot marry another Jew other than in a religious ceremony, which I am all in favor of, but as an option, not as an obligation. This is an unsatisfactory situation." 

If it were not for the legal clause stating that the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Freedom cannot affect legislation passed before 1992, would you think that the existing arrangement is not constitutional? 

"Yes, 100 percent so. The preservation of laws plays a very negative part here. But the problem has a solution. 

If we look at the problem from the Jewish point of view - even though it also affects members of other religions - it is claimed that marriage between Jews and non-Jews will cause a rift in the Jewish people. 

That argument might be valid outside Israel. But here, in Israel, I think it is insignificant. If civil marriage were recognized in Israel, it would not lead to an increase in civil marriage in the diaspora." 

IAF says ultra-Orthodox highly motivated

By Hanan Greenberg www.ynetnews.com May 30, 2009

A year after its launch, the project to recruit ultra-Orthodox soldiers to various positions within the Air Force is a success.

Ynet has learned that in internal polling conducted by the IAF's manpower branch, headed by Brig. Gen. Rami Ben-Efraim, the ultra-Orthodox servicemen 'won out' amongst the various sectors on two vital questions – willingness to stay in the service and willingness to become officers.

More than half – 53% - of haredi servicemen responded positively when asked whether they would consider staying in the Air Force. The percentage is higher than those recorded in eight other projects being run by the IAF.

Rabbis: Soldiers must refuse IDF orders

By Matthew Wagner www.jpost.com May 28, 2009

Leading religious Zionist rabbis called Wednesday evening on IDF soldiers and officers to disobey orders to dismantle and evacuate outposts and settlements in Judea and Samaria.

"The holy Torah prohibits taking part in any act of uprooting Jews from any part of our sacred land," wrote the group of rabbis that included Hebron-Kiryat Arba Chief Rabbi Dov Lior, Beit El Chief Rabbi Zalman Melamed, Yitzhar Rabbi David Dudkevitch, Rabbi Haim Steiner of Yeshivat Mercaz Harav and Rabbi Ya'acov Yosef, the eldest son of Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.

A search for their truth

By Lily Galili www.haaretz.com May 29, 2009

Although there are no exact figures on the number of immigrants from the former Soviet Union who define themselves as traditional or strictly observant Jews, Hanin estimates their number at 50,000, not counting Jews from Bukhara and the Caucasus, who are nearly all religious anyway. 

Tel Aviv centennial forgets city was once the capital of Hasidism

By Shlomo Shamir www.haaretz.com May 28, 2009

In all the events commemorating Tel Aviv's centennial, one unique chapter of the first Hebrew city's history was left out - for nearly half a century the city served as a center of the Hasidic world. 

For whatever reason, the centennial's organizers missed the fact that Tel Aviv was the preferred place of residence for senior Hasidic rabbis and their followers; they created a world whose size and quality easily compared to the communities of Central and Eastern Europe before the Holocaust. 

Religion and State in Israel

June 1, 2009 (Section 1) (continues in Section 2)

If you are reading in email or RSS feed, please click here to read ONLINE

Editor – Joel Katz

Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.

Religion and State in Israel - June 1, 2009 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

June 1, 2009 (Section 2) (continued from Section 1)

If you are reading in email or RSS feed, please click here to read ONLINE

Editor – Joel Katz

Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.

Justice urges seculars to 'take over' haredi bus lines

By Kobi Nahshoni www.ynetnews.com May 28, 2009

Retired Supreme Court Justice Dalia Dorner suggested on Monday that secular passengers start riding haredi bus lines en masse to counter the gender segregation advocated by the ultra-Orthodox.

In a conversation with Ynet, Dorner stressed that the proposed move was not meant as an act of defiance against the religious administration, but rather as means to exert pressure on the transportation minister and the Egged bus company to operate complimentary lines for the non-religious public.

"These arrangements should not be forced on the general population," she explained.

Dorner told students that young Jerusalemites should actively protest the segregated lines by using these buses more and disregarding the modesty codes practiced on them.

"If you, the young people. Don't fight for equality, there will be no equality, because the haredi sector is very dominant and is fighting for its rights."

Haredi ire delays plan to open Jerusalem parking lot on Shabbat

By Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com May 31, 2009

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat's plan to allow a public parking lot in the city to remain open during Shabbat was postponed by a week, due to fears of demonstrations by ultra-Orthodox, a municipal spokesperson said Wednesday.

According to the statement, the mayor decided to postpone the move until next weekend, following a specific request by the police, which feared its forces would be spread too thin in the event of protests during an already busy holiday. 

See also:

Kikar Safra Parking Lot to Open on Shavuos – Shabbos

Creeping segregation

By Peggy Cidor www.jpost.com May 27, 2009

Segregation of Sephardi girls in haredi seminaries is not a new issue. The humiliation experienced by girls who had to stay at home for months without studying because of their parents' ethnic origins has been written about at length.

The haredi establishment has always argued that these are private institutions and thus have the right to set their own rules.

But now the municipality is being faced with an attempt to enforce these rules in a community center, a facility that falls under the auspices of the municipality.

Rabbi: Buy only from religious storeowners

By Kobi Nahshoni www.ynetnews.com May 27, 2009

Ultra-Orthodox Jews should prefer shopping in businesses owned by religious Jews, rather than by secular or non-Jewish owners, Rabbi Yaakov Yosef ruled.

The rabbi is son of Shas' spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.

Haredi city in Negev – blessing or curse?

By Ilana Curiel www.ynetnews.com May 27, 2009

A recent decision by the Ministry of Interior's Southern District Planning and Construction Committee, to go ahead with the construction of an ultra-Orthodox city in the Negev, has sparked a controversy among the area's residents.

Meant to cater to haredi residents exclusively, Kasif is slated to stretch across 990 acres and house close to 50,000 people, with initial assessment by the Interior Ministry saying the number of residents may very well double.

The Israel Nature and National Parks Service (NNPS) argues that haredi residents should be encouraged to inhabit all of the south's cities, making for better integration in society.

Bet Shemesh: Efforts for Shomer Shabbos Section in Beis HaChaim

By Yechiel Spira www.theyeshivaworld.com May 26, 2009

Bet Shemesh Deputy Mayor (UJT) Shmuel Greenberg recently sent a letter to local religious council officials seeking a section in the city’s cemetery for the Shomer Shabbos community.

Greenberg explains his actions are prompted by a growing number of requests from residents of the Diaspora who are buying plots in increasing numbers in Bet Shemesh, and they are seeking an exclusively Shomer Shabbos section. The same hold true for a growing number of local residents he explains.

Ramat Eshkol Shabbos Generator a Source of Strife for Secularists

By Yechiel Spira www.theyeshivaworld.com May 27, 2009

The generator set up in Jerusalem’s Ramat Eshkol neighborhood supplies electricity on Shabbos and yomim tovim for the Bnei Yeshivos shul along with about 35 families.

While years ago Ramat Eshkol was an area of elite Ashkenazi secularists and a strong dati leumi community, today it is rapidly becoming home to many former American kollel families.

As the dati leumi shul loses members, the chareidi community, both American and Israeli, continue to grow.

Armon HaNatziv Joins Anti-Chareidi Movement in the Capital

By Yechiel Spira www.theyeshivaworld.com May 28, 2009

Another neighborhood of the capital joining the anti-chareidi movement is Armon HaNatziv, a primarily secular neighborhood in the southern area.

Yehuda Ben-Yosef, who heads the local council is angry, explaining the city is planning to open a chareidi kindergarten in 10 Alexander Robowitz Street and his office has not event been informed.

What really elicits his ire is the fact that the local board just completed NIS 50,000 in renovations in the building, planning to make it a community youth center. Now they learn the city has other plans, after the money was spent.

Kiryat Yovel Secularists Building their Case against Chareidim

By Yechiel Spira www.theyeshivaworld.com May 28, 2009

Anti-chareidi activists in the Kiryat Yovel area of Yerushalayim are gathering information to build a legal case that they hope will throw a wrench in the lives of the chareidim in the area.

They insist that the shul located on Ulsvenger Street, a former makolet (grocery store) is illegal, as is the area’s chareidi kindergarten.  They have begun a neighborhood watch to begin recording other illegal chareidi operations in the area towards amassing a file against the frum community.

There are about 6,900 families in the Kiryat Yovel area, and the chareidi community is now estimated to be about 300 families. The secular majority appears determined to prevent Kiryat Yovel from becoming ‘another chareidi neighborhood in Yerushalayim

Thousands of housing units planned in Beit Shemesh

By Dotan Levy, Calcalist www.ynetnews.com May 26, 2009

In recent years the city, located near Jerusalem, has become a favored destination for the haredi population, and its supply of apartments is running out.

Some 1,000 housing units are currently being built in the Ramat Beit Shemesh Gimmel neighborhood and have all been sold, most of them to the haredi sector.

The city's expansion plan allows the construction of some 20,000 housing units.

'People connected to Jewish heritage'

Kobi Nahshoni www.ynetnews.com June 1, 2009

A survey published last week ahead of Shavuot revealed that 95% of the Jewish public in Israel keep either a Bible, a Pentateuch or a Siddur at home and 63% studied Jewish texts in the last six months, many of them on a daily basis.

The participants were asked which Jewish texts they held at home. Ninety percent replied that they have a Bible, 65% have a Siddur, 47% have a Pentateuch, while 5% don't own any of the aforementioned books.

Another question sought to establish the frequency in which people read the Holy Scriptures. Some 22% of the respondents said they read Jewish texts on a daily basis and 41% said they have done so within the last six months.

Filling up spiritually

By Aryeh Dean Cohen www.jpost.com May 28, 2009

Welcome to Petah Tikva's Cafe Midrash, a self-described "spiritual bar-cafe," where the tables are surrounded by walls full of religious texts, a holy ark and a memorial plaque, and tonight's star performer is a rabbi who does card tricks, cracks jokes and leads his secular audience to spiritual places most have never been before.

The revolution is already here

By Chayuta Deutsch www.ynetnews.com May 31, 2009

Chayuta Deutsch is the editor of the Akdamot Journal, published by Beit Morasha of Jerusalem, and the author of Nechama: The Biography of Nechama Leibovitz, published by Yedioth Ahronot Press.

Michal Tikochinsky, a mother of seven and a lawyer by training, heads the Moshe Green Beit Midrash for Women at Beit Morasha of Jerusalem, where she teaches Talmud along with male rabbis, and serves as an instructor in the Advanced Women's Halacha Program that started there several years ago.

The program is designed for women who hold educational and public leadership positions, are highly motivated to engage in religious study, and are prepared to invest energy in the study of Halacha, in addition to their other endeavors.

Reinventing tradition

By Peggy Cidor www.jpost.com My 28, 2009

Today, there are 100 pluralistic - or liberal - batei midrash across the country, a few of them in Jerusalem, where the first one, Elul, was created 20 years ago; but the bulk of them are in the Tel Aviv region, with a few scattered in the north and the south of the country.

…One thing is surely shared by all: The pluralistic batei midrash are not intended to encourage any process of repentance or return to religion. 

"This is absolutely not our aim," says Calderon. "Sometimes people come and they are somewhat suspicious on this issue, but they quickly realize that this is not our goal and nothing is done to encourage it."

Video: All-night study sessions mark Shavuot

Interview with Alma Director Ruth Calderon

Click here for VIDEO

May 30, 2009

International Council of Jewish Women's seminar in Jerusalem

By Roz Lyons www.ynetnews.com June 1, 2009

Women from 19 countries came to the International Council of Jewish Women’s quadrennial educational seminar, which took place in Jerusalem this month, to learn about pioneering new ideas and programs that they can take back to their communities.

ICJW also launched its new Bea Zucker Online Bible Study Program, written by Dr. Bonna Devora Haberman, which offers Jewish educational materials with a feminist slant via the ICJW website to women everywhere.

From nation-state to node-state

By Ariel Beery www.haaretz.com Opinion May 28, 2009

Ariel Beery is the founder and co-director of the PresenTense Group, which equips social ventures and communities for the information age.

...A global era, and a globe-spanning people demands a global vision for the Jewish nation's collective governance institutions - and a recognition of the state's role as a node-state within a wider array.

As such, any new vision for the state's relationship with Diaspora Jews that is based on the old paradigm will be obsolete at birth.

Instead, we need a new vision for the state itself, a vision that grapples with our Altneuwelt as opposed to our Altneuland.

Aliyah from U.K. jumps by 50 percent

By Cnaan Liphshiz www.haaretz.com May 28, 2009

Immigration from the U.K. leaped over 50 percent in early 2009 over the parallel periods last year, the Jewish Agency announced yesterday.

According to immigration assistance organization Nefesh B'Nefesh, more than half of the newcomers used its services rather than those of the Jewish Agency. 

According to the Jewish Agency, 201 immigrants from the U.K. came to Israel from January to April, constituting a 53-percent increase compared to the 113 arrivals in the corresponding period last year. 

From the U.S. and Canada, 565 new olim arrived in the first quarter of 2009, compared to 383 in 2008 and 313 in 2007. South African olim numbered 107 so far this year - a 22-percent hike compared to the 68 who came in early 2008.

What do you do when you're an ultra-Orthodox divorcee?

By Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com May 31, 2009

For Aliza and more than 300 other Haredi women who belong to Em Habanim, the nonprofit organization is more than a recreational center. Some of the families here spend Shabbatot and holidays together under its auspices, and the women operate a social group that continues long past the center's hours and includes Internet forums for divorced Haredi women. 

…"Sometimes we are treated as though we were the organization of eczema sufferers in the Haredi world "Malach says. 
"We're told that as soon as we recognize that a problem exists, we also encourage it. Maybe that's true, but the problem still exists." 

Haredi matchmaking rates skyrocketing

By Ari Galahar www.ynetnews.com May 31, 2009

Matchmaking rates in the ultra-Orthodox sector have risen significantly in the last months, along with the overall increase in prices. The hike is predominately felt among Ashkenazi families who seek to marry off their daughters to a distinguished family

Modern Orthodox families, who don't usually use the services of a matchmaker, are nevertheless willing to pay extremely high rates for shidduchim.

One of the most popular matchmakers of the sector's richest families, Miri Levi, charges $10,000 from her clients. Luckily for her, there are still enough people willing to pay these sums.

125,500 Learning in Yeshivas and Kollelim

By Yechiel Sever http://chareidi.shemayisrael.com May 31, 2009

Eretz Yisroel's 2,000 yeshivas and kollelim boast a total of 125,500 students learning 20,790,000 hours during the course of the regular sedorim, according to a survey released at the start of Shloshes Yemei Hagboloh.

The survey, conducted by Yated Ne'eman in cooperation with the Union of Yeshiva Managers, reveals that 30,000 students occupy the benches of 275 yeshivos ketanos while 35,500 students — including 8,000 foreign students — study at the various yeshivos gedolos in Eretz Hakodesh.

Sixty thousand avreichim, including 5,000 from abroad, attend all-day kollelim. 4,200 learn at half-day kollelim and 200 learn at kollelim geared to produce dayonim and rabbonim.

Chareidi Enrollment in Jerusalem School System Up 11% in 5 Years

By Yechiel Sever http://chareidi.shemayisrael.com May 31, 2009

The number of students at chareidi schools in Jerusalem has risen 11 percent over the past five years, according to findings by the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Research.

According to the study 225,000 students are enrolled in Jerusalem this year. Of the 150,100 students at Jewish schools 59,900 (40 percent) study at government and government-religious schools and 90,200 (60 percent) study at chareidi institutions.

During the past five years (5764-5769) the number of students enrolled in Jerusalem's government and government-religious schools has decreased by 6 percent, while enrollment at chareidi schools has increased by 11 percent.

Bezeq Launches Kosher Phone Cards

By R. Gil http://chareidi.shemayisrael.com May 31, 2009

Over one year after launching Kav Venaki, Bezeq is advancing toward the second phase of the revolution in kosher phone use it has been leading in cooperation with Vaadat HaRabbonim LeInyonei Tikshoret.

During a recent press conference organized by advertising company Afikim, Bezeq unveiled its latest innovation in kosher communications: BezeqCards and other phone cards that cannot be used to access undesirable phone content, along with the Gold Public Telephone for use with the special phone cards and to be installed in yeshiva hallways.

Bezeq presented figures indicating that 90 percent of chareidi households use its services, saying the majority of the chareidi public is aware of the company's projects for the sake of chareidi community, including fostering Jewish values, promoting shemiras haloshon and special offers and discounts.

Hatzoloh Fights Magen David Adom Efforts to Keep Volunteers Away from Emergency Scenes

By Yechiel Sever http://chareidi.shemayisrael.com May 31, 2009

Chareidi emergency services organizations Ichud Hatzoloh and Hatzoloh Gush Dan are launching a resolute battle against Magen David Adom figures seeking to undermine their independence and their volunteers' dedicated efforts to provide first aid in accordance with halochoh based on directives by rabbonim.

A tale of three narratives

By Jonathan Mirvis www.haaretz.com Opinion May 28, 2009

Now that this month's visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Israel has been relegated to history, it might be useful to examine the distinctly different ways in which the trip was understood by different populations.

We can point to three contrasting "narratives" by which the event was described. 

"Pope visits Israel and refuses to apologize for Holocaust"; the second reads, "Pope visits Holy Land and prays at the holy places."

One can find the first narrative in the Israeli media while the second is typical of the Catholic media, as well as of some of the general world media that covered the visit.

There is a third narrative reflected in Israel's traditional religious media, according to which the papal visit was a non-event

Christians down to 2% of capital's population

By Etgar Lefkovits www.jpost.com May 31, 2009

Some 15,000 Christians live in Jerusalem, compared to 31,000 who lived in the city before the establishment of the state in 1948, the figures issued by the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies (JIIS) show.

In all, 150,000 Christians live in Israel.

The bitterly divided Christian community in Jerusalem includes 4,500 Catholics, 3,500 Greek Orthodox, 1,500 Armenians and 850 Protestants, the figures show.

In addition, about 2,600 Christian foreigners - mainly monks and clergymen - live in the city.

Religion and State in Israel

June 1, 2009 (Section 2) (continued from Section 1)

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Editor – Joel Katz

Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.